Monday, March 12, 2012

interview: maroon sparrow

Introducing Ms. Sophia of maroon sparrow. Here I am in a lovely dress made by her. Look for a full outfit post soon!

I am Sophia Alexandra, a dyslexic 19 year old student of fashion.  I have been wearing Lolita for about two and a half years. I am a model but, when I am not working or at school I spend my time making felt cake hats and sewing for my shop. Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed of having my own fashion boutique. Opening my online shop is my way of getting my toes in the water while I am young so when I graduate I will already have a name for my business.

1. tell us a little about lolita and how you came to start dressing lolita?
Japanese Lolita fashion draws influence from the Victorian and a rococo style of Europe but modernizes them with a slightly shorter skirt and more modern themes. There are three main types of Lolita fashion, although many sub styles like sailor and guro (gory with blood and bandages) exsist. Sweet Lolita is mainly pastel pinks, lavender, mint and yellows with graphic prints of bunnies or food. Classic is the most recognizably influenced by Victorian fashion with floral and earth tones. Gothic is fairly self-explanatory with cross themes and darker colors. The general rules, which are not set in stone but good for beginners to understand, are o wear a jsk (jumper skirt) or op (one-piece) dress with a blouse under it (one piece dose not require a blouse although some do use one with it). The jsk should have room for a full petticoat to give the cupcake shape and should be no more then a few inches above the knees. Although the fashion shares the name of a famous book it does not have anything to do with fetishes, although the privet lives of Lolita girls are all different, and is in general a very conservatively worn fashion. With the blouse and dress you should wear over the knee socks or tights, unless extreme heat doesn’t allow it, and some sort of headdress which could be flowers, a hat or large “alice” bow! There is much more one can learn about the fashion from reading this post but that is a basic overview:
I was in seventh grade when my friend Petra showed me a Japanese magazine with the visual-kei, and creator of gothic Lolita brand Moi-même-Moitié, Mana in it. I went to “the rich kid school” which I did not fit in with haha. They all watched the latest shows, got strait A’s and wore brand name clothing. I on the other hand had no cable tv, was struggling with just finding out I was dyslexic and issues at home, and only wore hand me downs or thrift clothing and couldn’t afford the new fashions.
I loved Lolita but thought it was only Gothic Lolita fashion and would describe it as “a Victorian child at a funeral”. Many of the online Lolita communities that exists today still excited them but I didn’t have internet at home so I didn’t find out about them until my senior year of high school! I never dreamed that you could buy, let alone wear Lolita in the US! It was like the unicorn of fashion to me ahaha.
The summer before my senior year of high school I went to CSSSA, a summer school for the arts and my roommate for the month was a Lolita. I was so excited and learned a lot from her. With her I went for the first time ever to the Lolita brand store, Baby the Stars Shine Bright and decided to start wearing it.

2.advice for the first time lolita buyer
WAIT! I know you will want to race forward and buy as much stuff as possible but I promise you within a year of wearing Lolita you will sell all of the cheep crap you impulsively bought and buy one or two nice brand dresses instead! Learn about the resale community because I have found lots of my brand clothing and great prices their because they were already loved by someone else. Bodyline used to be the best place to start out because even though they had some really sketchy stuff (more costumey and not real Lolita), they have jacket up their prices to almost brand standards. I have a great dress that I got fro $20 off Bodyline last year where as a lot of their dresses go for $50 and up on their website right now. Another good think is to go through Hello Lace, a website with images of almost everything ever released by different Lolita brands, and save all of your favorite images. This will help show you weather you are more drawn to sweet, classic or gothic Lolita or like me all of them ha! Another thing you will learn the hard way is the difference between styles you love but don’t love on you. I bought a lot of very sweet dresses at first with cute prints of bunnies but then sold them because I didn’t feel attractive or mature enough in them. I have a good post about buying from Bodyline here:
If your interested in dressing classic:
3. How would you describe your style?
Most, not all but, most lolitas stick to one of the major three categories. I started out buying sweet mostly because its easier to find cheep and thrifted sweet dresses but I never considered it my favorite style. All of last year I thought I was a classic Lolita haha but I was wrong. My interests are all over the place but I do think there are common themes. I have gothic dresses, sweet and classic as well but they are all a little vintage inspired, simple and bold sweet dresses, and slightly retro. Because I grew up only with thrifted and hand me down clothing I still use a LOT of off brand and vintage with my Lolita outfits and encourage it as not only a less expensive way to fallow the fashion but also a more unique way to do it!
4. How to buy lolita in second hand stores and mainstream stores?
I recommend thrift over vintage because vantage stores jack up the prices so much! Thrift shop in smaller towns where they aren’t known for vintage clothing because they are less likely to be picked over already. Don’t be afraid to look at the bottom of the $5 ben because you could find something awesome and you can always wash your hands later haha.  Look out for 40s, 50’s and 60’s dresses in vintage shops and in thrift stores because they are the most easy to double as a Lolita jsk. Look for about knee length dresses with enough from for a petticoat. The bodice doesn’t matter as much as long as it is fitted and preferable sits on your waist not your hip. The less plastic lace the better because it can look cheep but you can easily add or replace it with cotton lace. Cute vintage cardigans, 50’s hats and pens as well as vintage and mainstream heels always go great with Lolita and can make for a more bold outfit! Although heels aren’t very mainstream in Lolita, I am a huge fan of them because I have a boyfriend and want him to still find me cute and attractive even when I’m wearing a knee length dress, blouse and tights. Plus Lolita dresses have a way of making girls look a little bigger and shorter then they are because of the proportions of the dresses so I use tricks like wearing a chiffon blouse, that shows your slender arms while still covering them, and high heels which add length back to your legs!
5. when did you start sewing?
My mom is an anti consumerism tom boy so their was no one to teach me to sew as a child.  I had a sewing machine but had only figured out how to poorly take in items I had found at thrift stores that were to big. I was part of AAI (the Arcata Arts Institute) in high school that was a three year program in the visual arts, drama or music which you tried out for. Their were many after school classes offered for free because of this like glass blowing, figure drawing and even a fashion design class that ended in a fashion show. My first sewing class was my sophomore year of high school through the AAI Flow fashion show. I designed and sewed five dresses, one jacket, a corset made of magazines and pants. The dresses were pretty sad and all simple empire wasted but that corset is still one of my favorites. The next year I made eight items for the show and my senior year I made eight and organized the show itself. I haven’t been sewing that long but I am one of the most determined and driven people I know so I picked it up quickly. I actually remember swearing I would never sew again after making my first dress because I hated it so much but, a week later I was sewing again and now I make all my patterns and consider myself pretty good. I am mostly self-taught and there are some strange gaps in my knowledge because I don’t have a classic training in sewing but I really hope to fix those through my college courses.
6. Do you ever plan on opening up a shop where you live?
Yes definitely. San Francisco is the only place in the world besides Japan and Paris that has two, let alone one, brand Lolita stores. First Baby the Stars Shine Bright (a sweet, classic and pirate Lolita shop) and now Angelic pretty (a very over the top sweet shop) now do business in San Francisco and are accompanied by the Bay Area Lolitas which is one of the biggest meet up groups. Lolita is not mainstream but there is high demand with limited product that creates a great niche market, perfect for a small business. I have always dreamed of a physical shop wear customers can come in and interact with the product. My clothing will not be Lolita alone but, will be able to be used with Lolita as well as Japanese street fashions Mori (forest) and Dolly (like a vintage doll), as well as every day street fashion of the US. Both my parents started their own business so I know this is a hard goal and what it will take but San Francisco is one of the only places in the world where I could accomplish something like this.
7.What plans do you have to expand your etsy shop?
I need more funding but, once I have that I can pay a seamstress (who I have already found) to make several dresses in different sizes which will allow me to support having my own web shop, not an Esty, to get a business license and other things it will take to move myself forward. My business is just a baby so I am taking it slow but I understand clearly what it will take to move forward. Right now I just can’t afford the almost $40 a month it would cost to have my own web shop or the $200 it would cost to get a business license and pay other fees. I hope I can move in that direction my last year of college.
8. what are three articles of clothing you own now that you couldn’t live without.
Okay that’s hard but I will assume you mean Lolita not my whole wardrobe because that would be impossible to choose. I will say currently my staples are my black oxford heels because I wear them with everything, my jam jar jumper skirt from Emily Temple Cute because that was always the ultimate dream item of mine and possibly my Metamorphose Temp de Fille chiffon blouse because even though it was super cheep it just goes so well under all my dresses.
If you mean just dresses then I would go with jam jar again, my Angelic Pretty petite patisserie jumper skirt which was one of the first brand new and full priced items I ever bought and my Emily Temple Cute rows of jam jars one-piece! I love Emily Temple Cute because you can wear them in so many different ways.

You can see most of my wardrobe here:

1 comment:

Jo said...

Ohh, thank you for the introduction! Her style is gorgeous - I'm off to have a peek at the Etsy store! <3

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